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Reckoning

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A GUN IN EACH HAND

SYNOPSIS:
Eight men in their 40s are all suffering an identity and or relationship crisis.

Review by Louise Keller:
There's a sense of helplessness that runs through each of the five vignettes in this Spanish comi-drama that prods mercilessly at the secret lives, fantasies, emotions and sexual prowess of its eight middle-ages male protagonists. Director Cesc Gay's target is relationships; the gun in each hand of the title refers to male genitalia that seemingly cannot be controlled. Offering a somewhat cynical view of relationships and implying a total disconnect when it comes to male and female intimacy, the film offers some engaging moments largely due to its top cast, although elements within the vignettes are more successful than its whole.

Adultery, regret, contemplation, lust and betrayal are some of the emotions canvassed as men show themselves to be hopeless at communicating or properly dealing with matters concerning love and sex. The signs are everywhere. 'I used to be normal' (explains a cuckolded husband as to why he is secretly following his wife); 'I need a change to break the monotony', says another; 'One wrong turn off the road leaves nothing the same,' is another observation. The response to the question 'Do you love her' ('being in love means a lot of things') reinforces the theme that men have difficulty in confiding and expressing their innermost feelings. The scene in which Eduardo Noriega's married man who has been lusting after the office girl with (apparently) loose morals becomes an exercise in humiliation and leaves us with a nasty taste.

A kinder approach is taken in the sequence involving Javier Camara and Clara Segura as the repentant husband who strayed and is now asking for a second chance. It is bittersweet: the husband reveals he dreams of them making love while his wife dreams of him being run over by a car - with her driving. The awkward way in which the husband tells his wife he would like her back (through the bathroom door) is echoed as the segment concludes, although the generosity of spirit that shines through elevates this plotline. Also touching is the opening sequence between Leonardo Sbraraglia and Eduard Fernandez and Ricardo Darin leaves a lasting impression as the desperate husband who wants his wife back at any price. Erectile dysfunction and abuse problems are also canvassed, reinforcing the difficulty that men face in communicating their emotional angst.

Gay's less than flattering portrait of a world in which men's ability to connect and communicate about intimate issues is not one to which we warm as he paints a scenario in which their 'real' lives are nothing but a secret undercurrent. As a whole the film never quite gels and is an unusual choice as opening film for the 2013 Spanish Film Festival.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
You could say A Gun In Each Hand is a concept movie - but not a high one. The concept is the synopsis: Eight men in their 40s are all suffering an identity and or relationship crisis. The execution of this concept is by way of several conversations which involve one or two of the eight men at any one time, and through the dialogue to relay a series of private details which, bit by bit, expose their lives ... to some extent.

It's a contrivance as a device, and stilted in the execution, limiting the potential of the concept. It begins with a chance meeting between two men in the lift lobby of a block of flats, one on the way out from a visit to a psychiatrist. The men are friends, though not in frequent contact, and as they gradually reveal, they know little bits and pieces of each other's life. Awkward and rather pointless, this long scene sets the tone for what follows: more chance meetings that reveal surprising things about the characters on screen, or often about characters off screen most of whom we never meet.

Pertinent coincidences abound, and the film slowly rolls towards its predictable ending at a party.

Countering the defects in the writing, the performances by the top notch cast are all wonderful, nuanced and engaging, even though the dialogue is rarely so.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 1

A GUN IN EACH HAND (M)
(Spain, 2012)

Una pistola en cada mano

CAST: Ricardo Darin, Luis Tosar, Javier Camara, Eduardo Noriega, Leonor Watling, Candela Pena, Cayetana Guillen Cuervo, Eduard Fernandez, Leonardo Sbraraglia, Jordi Molla, Albert San Juan, Clara Segura

PRODUCER: Marta Estaban

DIRECTOR: Cesc Gay

SCRIPT: Cesc Gay, Tomas Aragay

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Andreu Rebes

EDITOR: Frank Gutierres

MUSIC: Jordi Prats

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Silvia Steinbrecht (Art Direction)

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Palace

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 4, 2013







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